Capt. "Sully" Sullenberger became a national hero after successfully landing a disabled airplane on the Hudson River—and then became a bestselling author with his autobiography, Highest Duty. Having been lionized as a true leader during his Hudson ordeal, Sullenberger uses his new book to explore the nature of leadership itself. He describes his post-fame meetings with "a number of distinguished Americans" from a diverse range of professions who "embody the credo of ‘leadership by personal example'" with the goal of creating "a contemporary version of John F. Kennedy's ‘Profiles in Courage'"—and for the most part, Sullenberger succeeds. The highlights of the book include his encounters with Thad Allen, U.S. Coast Guard chief of staff, who describes a range of "crucible events" that forged his leadership values, including his work on the Hurricane Katrina disaster and the Gulf oil debacle; Tammy Duckworth, lieutenant colonel in the Illinois National Guard, whose "incredible dedication to serving others" led to her losing her legs while serving in Iraq ("I could've lost both arms along with both legs and I would have been okay, knowing that I did my job"); and Robert Reich, professor and former U.S. secretary of labor, in an excellent chapter on the "three dangerous seductions" of martyr, messiah, and truth teller that potential leaders must avoid. (July)
Airline pilot, safety expert, and accident investigator Sullenberger (Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters) is famous for his successful emergency water landing of U.S. Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River in 2009. Here, Sullenberger explores the nature of leadership, e.g., responsibility, optimism, integrity, loyalty, and compassion. To write this book, Sullenberger traveled the world to interview 11 distinguished individuals, including former U.S. Labor secretary Robert Reich; former U.S. Veteran's Affairs assistant secretary Tammy Duckworth; Costco cofounder and CEO Jim Senegal; NASA Gemini and Apollo flight director Eugene Kranz; baseball manager Tony La Russa; education reformer Michelle Rhee; and Admiral Thad Allen, who directed FEMA's relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina. They discuss the essential nature of leadership, the core qualities that characterize the best leaders, and how their experiences can be applied to other people's lives. VERDICT Sullenberger manages to personalize the age-old topic of leadership with this collection of firsthand perspectives of notable leaders. Recommended.—Dale Farris, Groves, TX
With the assistance of Century (co-author, with Ice-T: Ice, 2011, etc.), Sullenberger (Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters, 2009) presents "a contemporary version" of John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage. Following his heroic landing of U.S. Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River, the author met with first officer Jeff Skiles to discuss how to move forward as private individuals faced with unsought public notoriety. They resolved to use their "new platform for the greater good" by serving as advocates and champions for aviation safety and the profession of airline pilots. But first they had to prepare themselves to deal with the new challenge. This book is an outgrowth of that process, as they rose to master new responsibilities and obligations. Sullenberger calls it "a kind of personal quest," which brought him into contact with the 11 people whose stories form the core of his book. Among others, they include three-time World Series–winning baseball manager Tony La Russa; Admiral Thad Allen, who brought innovative methods and a "fresh eye" to dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; Gene Kranz, the NASA Flight Director who stood up for the astronauts' safety against NASA's bureaucracy, and who brought Apollo 13 and its crew safely home; and Michelle Rhee, who was brought in to overhaul the Washington, D.C., school system and produced remarkable results over three years. Sullenberger is also concerned with how people build loyalty and empower others, as well as how they respond to crises. He highlights the role of Jim Sinegal at Costco, who has defended his employees and customers against stockholders. Sullenberger has provided a real service in presenting these courageous American leaders and their stories.